Trip to New York To Play Duke, Marquette Highlights Huskies' Unique 2011-12 Schedule
May 24, 2011
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE - The Huskies are going to chomp on the Big Apple this basketball season -- in an unprecedented, week-long chunk.
GoHuskies.com has learned Washington's 2011-12 men's basketball schedule includes a Tuesday night, Dec. 6 game against Marquette in the 17th annual Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City -- plus another nationally televised game inside "The World's Most Famous Arena on Saturday, Dec. 10 between the Pac-10 tournament champions and Duke.
"Those two games in New York are big-time games," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar told GoHuskies.com. "The Jimmy V Classic game against Marquette is for an outstanding cause. Then to play Duke on national television - I mean, those are outstanding games for our program. To get to play two quality and tradition-rich programs inside Madison Square Garden is tremendous."
The Huskies' long trip actually starts Dec. 2, when they will play at Nevada. The team will then travel on to New York, arriving on Sunday Dec. 4 and staying for six days.
It's the longest road trip for anything other than a nonconference tournament in Huskies history. The trek is so expansive, Washington is receiving approval for it from the NCAA.
The Huskies are also bringing unique homework.
The players will be taking independent study courses in drama and seminars on Broadway plays led by Shanga Parker, an actor and associate professor in UW's drama department, in the weeks leading up to the trip. Then while in New York, plans are for the players to attend at least one Broadway production and write a paper on their experiences. Professor Parker is expected to accompany the team onto Broadway.
Kim Durand, UW's associate athletic director for student development, says it will be one of the few known opportunities for credit work done by a major college sports team on a domestic, in-season trip.
Parker called it "a very exciting endeavor."
Darnell Gant should especially love it. The rising senior forward is majoring in drama.
The game at Nevada is part of Washington's two-for-one, home-and-home agreement that began last season with the Wolf Pack visiting UW. Then ESPN offered the annual Jimmy V Classic game - which benefits the foundation of the late Jim Valvano, the former national-championship coach at North Carolina State who died of cancer.
Duke wanted Washington as its nationally prominent opponent with cross-sectional appeal that same week, for what has become the Blue Devils' annual game in New York City. CBS will televise the fifth-ever meeting of Washington and Duke, the first since 1990.
"To get to play in the Garden against an opponent like Duke, you can't turn that down," Romar said. "We've been trying to get some big, high-profile games in our non-conference schedule. I'd say these are pretty big. It's a great, great challenge."
These will be Washington's third and fourth games at the current Madison Square Garden building in Manhattan. UW played two games there in November 2008, against Texas A&M and Syracuse in the NIT Season Tip-off tournament.
Washington played four other times at The Garden, in its previous incarnation uptown at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue. Three of those MSG games were in April 1936 as part of an Olympic trials tournament, plus Washington blew out New York University at The Garden on Dec. 3, 1941.
Washington begins the 2011-12 regular season by hosting the Basketball Travelers Inc. (BTI) Classic at Alaska Airlines Arena Nov. 12-14. The tournament will have UW playing three games in three days against Portland, Florida Atlantic and Georgia State.
The Huskies will then go on the road for the first time to play at Saint Louis Nov. 20. Romar was the Billikens' coach from 1999 until he took over at Washington before the 2002-03 season.
That game at Saint Louis is UW's first there since Dec. 29, 2001, during Romar's final season leading the Billikens. But the coach wants the St. Louis homecoming to be for Huskies guard Scott Suggs. Romar met him while shooting hoops in his Missouri driveway with the then-10-year-old more than a decade ago.
"It allows us to bring Scott Suggs home," Romar said of his senior. "That's why we scheduled it."
The Huskies will be idle for six days following the game against Duke in New York, then will host UC Santa Barbara Dec. 16. After home games against South Dakota State on Dec. 18 and Cal State Northridge Dec. 22, UW begins play inside the newly expanded Pac-12 Conference. The first league games are at Alaska Airlines Arena Dec. 29 and 31 against Oregon State and Oregon.
The first Pac-12 road trip is to new conference members Colorado and Utah, Jan. 5 and 7.
The conference will, in general, retain a Thursday-Saturday schedule of league games for one more season. The Pac-12's new television contract will change that some for the 2012-13 season.
"This year's schedule is different than any we've ever had," Romar said. "We're going to essentially play four road games before the conference season. When we've played that many away from home before it's been in tournaments, like last year in Maui."
Washington exposure on East Coast has never been higher than it will be the next two seasons and beyond, with this season's schedule plus that new Pac-12 TV deal with ESPN and Fox announced recently. It will put more conference games than ever on broadcast networks from coast to coast.
"Oh, I think it's on its way," Romar said of UW's long-overdue appearance on the East Coast hoops radar. "With the way we've scheduled, the new TV deal for the Pac-12 and for us to spend a week in New York this winter, this is great exposure and a great experience for our team."